List of miscarriage of justice cases

List of miscarriage of justice cases

This is a list of miscarriage of justice cases. This list includes cases where a convicted individual was later found to be innocent of the crime and has received either an official exoneration, or a consensus exists that the individual was unjustly punished or where a conviction has been quashed and no retrial has taken place, so that the accused is assumed innocent.


List of cases


  • Colin Ross was pardoned on May 27, 2008, 86 years after his conviction and execution.
  • Darryl Beamish and John Button were convicted of murders committed by Eric Edgar Cooke in 1961 and 1963, respectively.
  • Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton was convicted in 1982 for the murder of her 9 week-old daughter, Azaria, after claiming that the baby had been taken off by a dingo. In 1988, her conviction was overturned and she was released from prison.
  • Ray, Peter, and Brian Mickelberg were convicted in 1983 of the Perth Mint Swindle. In 2002, Tony Lewandowski came forward and admitted the police had framed the brothers. In July 2004 their convictions were quashed and as part of a libel settlement, the West Australian police issued a public apology in December 2007.[1]
  • Roseanne Catt was convicted in 1991 on 9 counts including attempted murder of her husband Barry Catt. She was arrested after she had agreed to assist the Department of Family and Community services in the prosecution of her husband for molesting his children (her stepchildren). The detective leading the investigation (Peter Thomas) was a business associate of Barry Catt and had a previous antagonistic relationship with Roseanne Catt. The investigation was carried out from the home of a friend of Barry Catt rather than from the local police station. The crown prosecutor was Patrick Power who later pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography. In 2004, after an 18 month investigation by Judge Davidson, Ms Catt's appeals against seven of the nine convictions (including attempted murder) were upheld whereas the other two convictions were allowed to stand.[2]
  • Andrew Mallard was convicted for the murder of jeweler Pamela Lawrence in 1994 after eight unrecorded hours of police interrogation and a brief recorded "confession" that followed. In 2005, the High Court of Australia was advised that the prosecution and/or police had withheld evidence which showed his innocence, and overturned his conviction. As such, Mallard was released from prison. A "cold case" review of the murder conducted after Mallard's release implicated one Simon Rochford as the actual offender and Mallard was exonerated.
  • Salvatore Fazzari, Jose Martinez, and Carlos Pereiras were convicted in 2006 for the murder of Phillip Walsham in 1998. The conviction was overturned by the Western Australian Court of Appeal in 2007 on the grounds that the guilty verdicts were unreasonable and could not be supported on the evidence.[3]
  • Graham Stafford was convicted in 1992 of the murder of twelve-year-old Leanne Sarah Holland, the younger sister of Stafford's then partner. Stafford unsuccessfully appealed in 1992 and 1997. Stafford served over 14 years in prison before being paroled in 2006. One of the conditions of his appeal was that he not speak to the media. In a rare third appeal in 2009 Stafford was successful with two judges ordering a retrial and the third recommending an acquittal. One aspect of the decision of the High Court in determining the Andrew Mallard case was quoted by the majority as an important factor in their decision to uphold the appeal.[4] The Queensland Director of Prosecutions decided that a retrial was not in the public interest. Stafford and his supporters are seeking an investigation into the original prosecution.
  • Farah Jama was convicted on 21 July 2008 of rape of an unconscious woman purely on the basis of DNA evidence. The woman had been found unconscious partly undressed in a toilet cubicle in a night club. She had no recollection of having been raped. Mr Jama served 15 months of a 6 year sentence before being acquitted by a court of appeal. A subsequent investigation by a retired judge concluded that there had been no rape and that the DNA sample had been contaminated at the time it was taken from the alleged victim.[5] Mr Jama was awarded an ex gratia payment of $AU 250,000 by the Victorian Government.[6]
  • Terry Irving was convicted in 1993 of the armed robbery of a Cairns bank, and sentenced to eight years imprisonment. Identification evidence given at his trial was later established to be false. Irving protested his innocence throughout his trial and appeals. He was denied legal aid for his appeals. After serving over half of his prison sentence, Irving had his conviction quashed by the High Court of Australia. The High Court stated that Irving’s original trial was unfair, saying that it had the "gravest misgivings about the circumstances of the case".[7] When the Queensland Government refused to make restitution to Irving, he took his case to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, which stated in 2002 that Irving had "been the subject of manifest injustice" and "should be entitled to compensation".[8] In 2009, Queensland Attorney General Cameron Dick abandoned a judicial review of Irving's case, which had been ordered by Dick's predecessor, Kerry Shine.[9] Irving is yet to be compensated for his four and a half years of wrongful imprisonment.


  • Ivo Andrić, as a result of confusion during the First World War for political activities.


  • Steven Truscott's wrongful conviction of murder in the death of Lynne Harper stood for 48 years before finally being overturned August 28, 2007.
  • In 1969, 16-year old David Milgaard was convicted and given a life sentence for the murder of 20-year old nursing aide Gail Miller. After 23 years of imprisonment, the Supreme Court of Canada allowed for the release of Milgaard. Five years later DNA testing proved his innocence.
  • Donald Marshall was wrongfully convicted in 1971 of the murder of Sandy Seale; acquitted on appeal in 1983 after an additional witness to the murder came forward.
  • In 1971, Gary Staples was wrongfully convicted of the murder of taxi driver, Gerald Burke. He was finally exonerated of the crime on December 5, 2002.
  • Thomas Sophonow was wrongfully convicted in 1981 of the murder of Barbara Stoppel; acquitted on appeal in 1985, and conclusively exonerated by DNA evidence in 2000.
  • Ronald Dalton was wrongfully convicted of murdering his wife, Brenda, in August 1988. It was later found that Brenda Dalton choked on cereal.
  • James Driskell was wrongfully convicted in 1991 of the murder of Perry Harder; his conviction was quashed and the charges stayed in 2005 due to DNA testing, but he has not been fully exonerated.
  • Robert Baltovich was convicted in 1992 of the murder of Elizabeth Bain; released in 2000 to prepare an appeal based on new evidence. The Court of Appeal for Ontario ordered a new trial, which began in March 2008. At the outset of the trial, the Crown declined to call any evidence, and the judge ordered the jury to bring a verdict of not guilty. New evidence points to Paul Bernardo, an acquaintance of Ms Bain's, as her killer.
  • Guy Paul Morin was wrongfully convicted in 1992 of the murder of Christine Jessop; he was exonerated by DNA evidence in 1995.
  • Vytautas-Charles Baltrusaitis was wrongfully convicted of the 1994 murder of his brother. After serving almost a decade behind bars a second jury concluded him to be not guilty. His case is one of several discussed in a Canadian Justice Department report on prevention of miscarriages of justice.[10]
  • Tammy Marquardt was convicted in Ontario in 1995 of killing her two-year-old son, who had epilepsy. Her conviction rested in large part upon testimony from Charles Smith, a pathologist (stripped of his medical licence in February 2011) who concluded the boy had been strangled or smothered. Smith's work in many criminal cases (including Marquardt's) was later discredited in a public inquiry, and her conviction was set aside on 10 February 2011 by the Ontario Court of Appeal. Prosecutors agreed Marquardt's trial had been faulty, but they believed she might still be convicted again and would not say whether a retrial would be sought or not.[11][12][13]


  • Joan of Arc was executed in 1431 on charges of heresy. She was posthumously cleared in 1456.
  • Jean Calas from Toulouse was executed on March 10, 1762, for murder of his son Marc Antoine. The philosopher Voltaire, convinced of his innocence, succeeded in reopening of the case and rehabilitation of Jean in 1765.
  • Alfred Dreyfus was wrongly convicted for treason in 1894. After being imprisoned on Devil's Island, he was proven innocent with the assistance of Émile Zola and definitively rehabilitated only in 1906. See the Dreyfus affair.
  • In 2005, thirteen people were finally proven innocent of child molestation after having served four years in prison. A fourteenth died in prison. Only four people were proven guilty. This infamous case, which deeply shook public opinion, is known as the Affaire d'Outreau, the Outreau case, from the name of the city where the victims lived.


  • Socrates was sentenced to drink poison hemlock in 399 BC for corrupting the youth of Athens and impiety. Modern interpretations state this was instead revenge for his affiliation with the dictatorial Thirty Tyrants.


  • Atefah Sahaaleh was a teenager who was convicted of adultery and "crimes against chastity". She was hanged on August 15, 2004. There was little evidence to support her guilt, other than her confession which was obtained by coercion and torture. Also, under the international law, it is illegal for Iran to execute an individual under the age of 18, however, after the execution, the judge in her case confessed to a cover-up by having a speedy trial. Documents presented in court described her as 22 years of age, while her birth certificate would've shown that she was only 16.



  • In January 1976, Amos Baranes was convicted for the 1974 murder of soldier Rachel Heller and was sentenced to life imprisonment. In 1980, Ezra Goldberg, a retired policeman concluded that Baranes didn't commit the murder. He gave the information to judge Haim Cohn, who concluded that his judgement was wrong. Cohn suggested Baranes to ask for a pardon. Baranes refused, claiming that such a request would be an admission of a crime he didn't commit. Cohn asked the president to shorten Baranes's imprisonment. Baranes was finally released in June 1983. He continued his struggle to clear his name. Three times his requests for a new trial were denied. In March 2002, Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner finally ruled that Baranes should get a new trial. Four weeks later, judge Cohn died. His last phone conversation was with judge Dorner; he called her from his sickbed and thanked her for fixing the injustice "that I did". Baranes was one of the people who carried Cohn's coffin. In December 2002, the court acquitted Baranes - without hearing evidence and without deciding whether Baranes committed the crime - after the prosecution decided not to have a trial. Amos Baranes died in September 2011. Rachel Heller's killer was never caught.
  • In 1978, seven gang members - known as the "Maatz Gang" - were accused of arsons and planning the murders of judges and policemen. Based on their own admissions, they were all convicted and sentenced to imprisonment terms between 3 and 10 years. 14 years later, a policeman involved in the investigation of 4 of them, confessed that their confessions were taken using violence and humiliations and that their confessions were forged. The four requested a new trial. In 1998 the court canceled their conviction, after the prosecution agreed to acquit them due to new evidence found.
  • In 1986, Ukrainian immigrant and retired Ford auto worker, John Demjanjuk was extradited to Israel to stand trial for being the infamous Treblinka extermination camp guard known as "Ivan The Terrible". His trial started in 1986 sometime after he was brought to Israel and charged, the trial was broadcast live on the Israeli radio media. There were some documents that he was a guard however, certain details raised by the defense such that an SS Commissioner, Odilo Globocnik, who had in fact been dismissed from this post in March 1942 (before Demjanjuk was said to have arrived), at which time his official SS seal was destroyed. Also certain, members of the SS had wrong ranks signed on the ID card. There were five people, former concentration camp inmates that testified and identified John Demjanjuk as the guard as "Ivan The Terrible" in the Israeli courtroom. On April 18, 1988 John Demjanjuk was convicted on all counts and sentenced to death by hanging. An appeal by his Israeli lawyers was launched. During, this time doubts started to surface. In Poland, near a town where the Treblika concentration camp was located, some of the local residents who were there during the Nazi occupation claimed they knew most of the SS guards that came into town to frequent at the local bar and cafes, etc. They claimed that John Demjanjuk was not Treblinka's Ivan the Terrible. In 1991, the Soviet Union fell apart and then KGB documents emerged. Documents said that some 37 former guards said an "Ivan Marcheko" was the infamous Ivan. In fact the KGB files even had a detailed file on concentration camp guard Ivan Mercheko (where he was born, schooling, family history, etc.) of being "Ivan the Terrible" and not Demjanjuk. Also, Demjanjuk family members in the USA found documents by the US Government OSI Agency that cast doubts that John Demjanjuk even being Treblinka's Ivan camp guard. The US agency went to great lengths not to share this information with Demjanjuk's USA lawyers. With this mounting hard evidence on July 29, 1993 the Israeli Supreme Court overturned his conviction and was set free. Many concentration camp victims wanted him tried for being at Sobibór extermination camp, but the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that this would be double jeopardy, and he was sent back to the United States. He later had his citizenship restored in 1998, but USA officials still wanted him out of the USA. After many years a very ill John Demjanjuk was deported to Germany in the summer of 2009, and he is currently on trial for being a Wachmann at Sobibór camp in Germany.


  • Pietro Valpreda, an anarchist condemned for the 1969 Piazza Fontana bombing, was finally found innocent sixteen years later. He was framed since it was planned to blame the crime on the radical Left, while it was committed by Neo-Fascist groups as the first step of the strategy of tension.
  • Enzo Tortora, a popular anchorman on national RAI television, was arrested in 1983 and held in jail for months on trumped up charges by several pentiti of the Camorra and other people already known for perjury. It was soon noted that this was most likely an mis-identification due to confusion with a man bearing the same surname (meaning "turtledove"), but the pentiti kept on accusing Tortora of the gravest offenses related to drug dealing. He was sentenced to ten years in jail in his first trial held in 1985, being spared further incarceration only thanks to the providential intervention of the Radical Party who offered him a candidacy to the European Parliament, a place Tortora won in a landslide as the country became divided between those who held him guilty and those who held him innocent. He was completely acquitted and rehabilitated in 1986; he returned the next year to his work in TV, to a moving comeback in his "Portobello" show, to die in 1988 from cancer and become an icon of injustice and a perpetual reminder of the gravest public blunder of the Italian judiciary system.
  • Daniele Barillà, an entrepreneur mistakenly identified as a major drug cartel boss in Milan, spent more than 7 years in jail in 1992–1999, despite growing evidence of his complete innocence and non-involvement in any criminal activity. To this day, the Italian state hasn't awarded him any compensation.


  • Sakae Menda was convicted for a double murder in 1948 and was sentenced to death, but was cleared in 1983 after further evidence backing up his alibi came to light.
  • Hiroshi Yanagihara was convicted of rape and attempted rape, but the true culprit, Eiichi Otsu, was arrested after Yanagihara's release. Otsu was charged with 14 rapes and Yanagihara was cleared by retrial in 2007.[14] Otsu was sentenced to 25 years in prison.[15]


  • In 2005, the AFI staged an arrest of kidnappers for the benefit of Mexican TV crews. A French woman named Florence Cassez was condemned to 60 years in Prison. Her case has created controversy between France and Mexico. The AFI agents involved in the staged arrest have since come under investigation.[16] In August 2010, the lawyers for Florence Cassez filed an appeal to the Mexican Supreme Court, arguing that the arrest was unconstitutional and that the right of their client was violated.[17]
  • In 2006, six AFI agents raided the Santiago Mexquititlán market, and later claimed they had been held hostage by unarmed market vendors. Three women, including Jacinta Francisco Marcial, were imprisoned for the alleged kidnapping. In 2009, the charges against Francisco Marcial were dropped following protests from human rights groups.[18]

The Netherlands

  • The Putten murder case (1994): in this case, the 23-year-old stewardess Christel Ambrosius was found murdered in her grandmother's house, which was remotely located in the Veluwe. The police arrested four men who had been in those woods that weekend. Even though sperm found didn't match the DNA of any of the four men, Wilco Viets and Herman Dubois were convicted to 10 years imprisonment anyway, of which they only served two thirds for good behavior. In April 2002, the Dutch high council (Supreme court) declared both men innocent, shortly after they had completed their sentences. Another suspect was apprehended in May 2008, based on a DNA match.
  • The Schiedammerpark murder case (2000): Cees Borsboom was released in December 2004 after serving four years in prison of a sentence of 18 years for a murder in June 2000 of a 10-year old girl in a Schiedam park. He was released after Wik Haalmeijer confessed to the murder. This confession was confirmed by DNA evidence on the victim and the description of the attacker given to the police by another victim, Maikel, who narrowly survived the attack. Investigation of the manner the prosecution acted in this case revealed that the police and the public prosecutor made substantial mistakes, ignored relevant information, and brutalized (strangulation during police interrogation) the 11-year old victim Maikel. Minister of Justice Piet Hein Donner had to take all responsibility. In September 2005, he survived a no-confidence motion in parliament but did set up the Posthumus I and Posthumus II committees. The state of the Netherlands paid Cees Borsboom € 600.850,- compensation and the parents of Maikel an unknown amount.

The Posthumus committees: the Schiedammerpark murder case, as well as the similarly overturned case of the Putten murder, led to the installation of the "Posthumus I committee", which analyzed what had gone wrong in the Schiedammerpark Murder case, coming to the conclusion that confirmation bias led the police to ignore and misinterpret scientific evidence (DNA). Subsequently, the so-called Posthumus II committee was set up to investigate whether more of such cases might have occurred. The committee received 25 applications from concerned and involved scientists, and decided to take three of them into further consideration: the Lucia de Berk case, the Ina Post[19] case, and the Enschede incest case. In these three cases, confirmation bias and misuse of complex scientific evidence is claimed by independent researchers (professors Wagenaar, van Koppen, Israëls, Crombag, Derksen) to have led to miscarriages of justice. Other potential cases: there are also continuing attempts by concerned scientists to get the well-known Deventer murder case, the Overzier murder case, the butler case, the Epe incest case, and the Kevin Sweeney case reopened.

New Zealand

  • Arthur Allan Thomas, a New Zealand farmer, was twice convicted of the murders of Harvey and Jeanette Crewe on June 17, 1970. He spent 9 years in prison but was given a Royal Pardon, and was released and awarded $1 million compensation for wrongful convictions. A Royal Commission in 1980 showed the prosecution cases were flawed, there was a high possibility police had deliberately planted a cartridge case in the Crewes' garden to use as evidence, and ignored evidence that pointed to another suspect. The prosecution had also denied alibi and witness information to the defense team.
  • David Doherty was convicted in 1993 on charges of abduction and the rape of an 11-year-old girl. After serving over 3 years in prison, he was acquitted in 1997 after new DNA evidence ruled him out. Compensation of over $800,000 was paid by the New Zealand Government and an apology given for the wrongful conviction. The real culprit, Nicholas Reekie, was later convicted of the crime. [6]
  • David Bain was convicted in 1995 of the murder of all five members of his family the previous year. After 13 years in prison, his convictions were finally overturned in 2007 by the Privy Council, who found that a substantial miscarriage of justice had occurred. In his 2009 retrial Bain was acquitted on all charges.
  • Rex Haig was convicted in 1995 of the murder of Mark Roderique, a crew member on Haig’s fishing boat, Antares. The murder conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal in August 2006, nearly two years after Haig’s release on parole having served a full sentence for the killing. Haig’s nephew, David Hogan, who claimed that he saw his uncle kill Mr Roderique, is now regarded by the Court of Appeal as a suspect for the murder, and, by at least one of the three Appeal Court Judges, as an ‘utterly unreliable’ witness.[citation needed] Haig's bid for compensation for imprisonment was declined in 2009 on the basis that he failed to show he was innocent of the murder and was probably involved in it.[20]
  • Aaron Farmer served 2 years and 3 months in prison for the rape of a Christchurch woman before being exonerated by DNA evidence. At the time of Farmer's sentencing District Court Judge Murray Abbott criticized aspects of the police inquiry regarding disclosure of evidence and deficits in transcripts of a police video interview. Issues regarding analysis of samples submitted to Environmental Science and Research had not been followed through in a timely way, and no satisfactory explanation had been given why an identity parade had not been conducted. The Appeal Court highlighted that in a taped interview with Farmer, the detective gave the impression that DNA evidence implicated Farmer when it did not.[citation needed]
  • Tania Vini, Macushla Fuataha, both 14, and 15 year-old Lucy Akatere were jailed for terms of up to two years for the aggravated robbery of a 16 year-old school girl who was viciously slashed and bashed by five teenage girls. The girls served seven months in prison before being released. The actions of the Police in their interviewing of the girls was shown to have been overbearing and deceitful. In overturning the convictions, Court of Appeal judge, Justice Gault, said the three girls had the court’s sympathy for the injustice that had wrongly sent them to prison. He went on to say the “investigation and the trial system failed in this case” and the wrongful conviction “raises questions of conduct by the police which is a serious matter and must be properly investigated”. The allegations center on the alleged misconduct of the then Detective Constable Trevor Franklin, with serious allegations of misconduct in relation to his tactics.[citation needed]
  • In 2000, a man, whose name is suppressed, was exonerated of allegations of indecent assault on his two sons, both then aged under 12 years. He was convicted in 1995 and spent 14 months in prison before the Court of Appeal quashed the conviction after both sons retracted their allegations. The allegations were withdrawn by the children within 48 hours of being made, but police failed to make those facts available to defense counsel and continued with the prosecution. Over half a million New Zealand Dollars was paid in compensation.[citation needed]


Despite Norway's international reputation, Norwegian police, courts and prison authorities have been criticized and convicted on several occasions by the European Court of Human Rights for breaking the principle of innocent until proven guilty. Despite Norways modest population (4,9 million), it was reported that in 2010, almost 800 people had applied for compensation after wrongful prosecutions. Around half were granted compensation.

  • Per Kristian Liland, wrongfully convicted of murdering two of his friends in 1969. He was cleared in 1994. His case is known as The Liland Affair.
  • Fritz Moen, wrongfully convicted for separate murders of two 20-year-old women in 1976 and 1977. He was cleared of one murder in 2004. After his death in March 2005, he was cleared of the second murder, based on a reinvestigation of the case by Norway's Criminal Case Review Commission.[21] The case against Fritz Moen stands as Europe's only known case of dual miscarriage, in which a country's judicial authorities have convicted the wrong person in two separately related murders.
  • Sveinung Rødseth, wrongfully convicted in 1981 for the murder of his 5-month old daughter. Cleared in 1998.
  • Thor Karlsen, arrested in 1982 for the murder of an Johanne Apenes in Fredrikstad. He was released after 170 days in costudy, but was branded as a killer for 25 years before another man confessed the murder in 2007. Karlsen and his family received partial compensation in 2011.
  • Atle Hage was wrongfully convicted for incest to his two children in 1984. His wife accused him when the couple divorced. Hage committed suicide in 1987, his life in ruins after time in prison. In 1997 his two children, then 20 and 22, demanded the case be reopened, claiming that no molestation had taken place and that Hage's wife had lied. Hage was cleared in 1998. Hages ex-wife, Ada Borthen, later made similar accusations against her new husband. She has never been charged for making false accusations. Hage's daughter suffered from depression after the suicide and was admitted to a mental hospital, where she for years was treated as an incest victim.
  • The Birgitte-case 1995: The murder of Birgitte Tengs sparked a huge investigation. The following year a cousin was arrested and charged. He was first convicted, but late cleared on appeal. Later, he was sued in civil court and found liable for the unlawful death of Birgitte Tengs. This decision was later reversed by the European Court of Human Rights, and the Norwegian courts were convicted for human rights violations. Further investigation concluded that false confessions had been made under psychological pressure and extortion by the police. Despite the Human Right courts decision, Norwegian court upheld the liability verdict in 2009, stating that "the victims parents have the right to the peace a final verdict will give."
  • In 1996, veteran police officer Harald Tveiten was convicted of forgery of 223,000 NOK. He helped a widow withdraw and acquire her assets. When she died, the money had been given to charity. The widow's inheritors accused Tveiten of theft, and he was convicted. The case was re-opened in 2008 after 12 years of appeal. Tveiten was cleared in July that year, but died of blood cancer just a few hours after the verdict.
  • In 2002, a woman exercising in Oslo was assaulted and raped. Based on her identification, a naturalised immigrant from Kosovo was convicted for the crime. In 2006, DNA-evidence found on the crime-scene during the initial investigation proved that the real perpetrator was a 44-year old Norwegian, now serving a long sentence for murdering his wife. The innocent person was exonerated.
  • In 2004, a Norwegian woman living in England was convicted for false rape accusations against two British men she had engaged in intercourse with at an hotel. A security camera recording proved that she had made false accusations to hide adultery. The case eventually led to the exonoration of a Norwegian man convicted by accusations from the same woman in 1993, and review of 5 other rape accusations the woman had reported in Norway.
  • In 1990, Åge Vidar Fjell was convicted of killing his neighbour with a shotgun. He was cleared in 2009. Fjell was mentally disabled and incapable of committing the crime.

Former Lagmannsretts judge Trygve-Lange Nielsen has worked with dedication to clear victims for wrongful incest convictions, himself responsible for numerous convictions from his own career as a judge. In 2009, 30 cases were solved as wrongful. Nielsen has stated that as many as 150 convictions or more probably are wrongful.

  • In one of those cases, Oddbjørn Kvam was accused by his ex-wife in 1989 of child molestation. He was convicted and sentenced to 2 years and eight months in prison. Instead of serving, he fled to Thailand with his new wife and their two children and lived there as a corn-farmer until 2004 after Lange-Nilesen contacted him. He got his case re-opened and was cleared of all charges. The Norwegian state refused to give Kvam full compensation because he had fled the country. But in 2009, 20 years after the wrongful conviction, he was awarded 4.6 million NOK by the court, enough for him and his family to re-establish in Norway. The court characterized Kvams exile as a matter of self-defense against the states abusive verdict against him and his family.


The Constitution of Spain guarantees compensation in cases of miscarriage of justice.

  • The case known as "El crimen de Cuenca" (the crime of Cuenca) where in 1910 two peasants were convicted of the murder of another peasant who had disappeared even though the body was never found. Some years later the disappeared peasant showed up again and proved the conviction was wrongful.
  • The so-called "Wanninkhof case" where Dolores Vazquez was convicted of the murder of Rocío Wanninkhof in 1999. Later DNA evidence exonerated her.


  • Joy Rahman, a man of Bangladeshi origin, was in 1994 wrongfully convicted to life imprisonment for the murder of an elderly lady. After almost nine years in prison, he was freed by the Svea Court of Appeal, and later awarded 8 million SEK, the highest compensation ever awarded to a person in Sweden for wrongful conviction.[22] Joy Rahman used the money to found the Joy Rahman Welfare Foundation, which provides healthcare and micro-loans to poor people. On March 29, 2008, Joy Rahman was arrested in Bangladesh on suspicion of murder.


  • Air Force private Chiang Kuo-ching (江國慶) was tortured and forced to confess to the rape and murder of a five year old girl. He was court martialed and executed in 1997. In 2011 another suspect was arrested for the crime. The conviction has not been overturned but President Ma has apologized for the wrongful execution.

United Kingdom

England, Wales and Northern Ireland

In the United Kingdom a jailed person whose conviction is quashed may be paid compensation for the time they were incarcerated.

It was a notable problem that the parole system assumes that all convicted persons are actually guilty, and that it poorly handled those who are not. In order to be paroled, a convicted person was required to sign a document in which, among other things, they confessed to the crime for which they were convicted. Someone refusing to sign such a declaration of remorse ended up spending longer in jail than a genuinely guilty person would have. Some wrongly convicted people, such as the Birmingham Six, were refused parole for this reason. In 2005 the system changed in this respect, and a handful of prisoners started to be paroled without ever admitting guilt.

In the event of a "perverse" verdict that involves the conviction of a defendant who should not have been convicted on the basis of the evidence presented, English law has no means of correcting this error: appeals being based exclusively upon new evidence or errors by the judge or prosecution (but not the defense), or because of jury irregularities. It occurred however in the 1930s when William Herbert Wallace was exonerated of the murder of his wife. There is no right to a trial without jury (except during the troubles in Northern Ireland when a judge or judges presided without a jury).

During the early 1990s there was a series of high-profile cases revealed to have been miscarriages of justice. Many resulted from police fabricating evidence, in order to convict the person they thought was guilty, or simply to convict someone in order to get a high conviction rate. The West Midlands Serious Crime Squad became notorious for such practices, and was disbanded in 1989. In 1997 the Criminal Cases Review Commission[23] was established specifically in order to examine possible miscarriages of justice. However, it still requires either strong new evidence of innocence or new proof of a legal error by the judge or prosecution. For example, merely insisting you are innocent and the jury made an error, or stating that there was not enough evidence to prove guilt, is not enough. It is not possible to question the jury's decision or query on what matters it was based. The waiting list for cases to be considered for review is at least two years on average. See, for example:

Other miscarriages
  • Robert Green, Henry Berry and Lawrence Hill were hanged in 1679 at Greenberry Hill on false evidence for the unsolved murder of Edmund Berry Godfrey.
  • Adolph Beck, whose notorious wrongful conviction in 1896 led to the creation of the Court of Criminal Appeal.
  • John Alexander Dickman was wrongfully convicted of the murder of John Nisbet on 6 July 1910, and sentenced to death, on purely circumstantial evidence, and on the basis of an ID parade where the witness was tainted. The Home Secretary of the time, Winston Churchill, took a keen interest in the case, and he expressed doubts about the evidence. A campaign was run to free Dickman, but John Dickman was hanged in Newcastle Prison on 10 August 1910. In 1925 a person called "Condor" confessed to killing John Nisbet. The document of 40,000 words spread over 205 pages was sent to Truth Magazine. The document was sent on to the Home Office but they refused to order the police to investigate it.
  • William Herbert Wallace who was convicted of murdering his wife, but the conviction was overturned by the Court of Criminal Appeal in 1931.
  • Walter Graham Rowland was tried for a murder in Manchester and hung in 1947, despite poor identification evidence and a confession from another.
  • Timothy Evans's wife and young daughter were killed in 1949. Evans was convicted of the murder of his daughter and was hanged in 1950. An official inquiry conducted 15 years later determined that the real killer of Evans's daughter had been Evans's co-tenant, serial killer John Reginald Halliday Christie. Christie was also responsible for the death of Evans's wife, his own wife, and six other women. He was the chief witness against Evans at his trial because the police accepted all of his statements as fact. The police were incompetent in their several searches of the house at Rillington Place, missing bones of earlier victims exposed in the tiny garden of the property. They also concocted false confessions from Evans to justify their accusations against Evans. The case was important in leading directly to the abolition of capital punishment in 1965 in the UK.
  • Mahmood Mattan, little known case of a Somali fisherman, hanged in Cardiff in 1952. Conviction overtured in 1998. £1.4 million compensation was shared out between Mattan's widow Laura, and her three children.
  • Derek Bentley, executed for murdering a police officer. The charge was based on the allegation that during a standoff with police, he shouted to an armed friend 'Let him have it, Chris'. The case is often said to be a miscarriage of justice, and the verdict was overturned half a century later. It should be noted, however, that the grounds for overturning the verdict was that the trial had not been fair, due to various procedural defects. Had Bentley still been alive, there would certainly have been a retrial; he was not pronounced innocent by the Court of Appeal.
  • Andrew Evans served more than 25 years for the murder of 14-year-old Judith Roberts. He confessed to the 1972 murder after seeing the girl's face in a dream. His conviction was overturned in 1997.
  • Stephen Downing was convicted of the murder of Wendy Sewell in a Bakewell churchyard in 1973. The 17-year-old had a reading age of 11 and worked at the cemetery as a gardener. The police made him sign a confession that he was unable to read. The case gained international notoriety as the "Bakewell Tart" murder. After spending 27 years in prison, Stephen Downing was released on bail in February 2001, pending the result of an appeal. His conviction was finally overturned in January 2002.
  • The Birmingham Six were fraudulently convicted in 1975 of planting two bombs in pubs in Birmingham in 1974 which killed 21 people and injured 182. They were finally released in 1991.
  • In 1974 Judith Ward was convicted of murder of several people caused by a number of IRA bombings 1973. She was finally released in 1992 having served 18 yeard in Prison.
  • The Guildford Four and Maguire Seven were wrongly convicted in 1974 and 1976 respectively of planting bombs in various pubs in Guildford and Woolwich. Their convictions were quashed in 1989 and 1991. On February 9, 2005, British Prime Minister Tony Blair issued a public apology to the Maguire Seven and the Guildford Four for the miscarriages of justice they had suffered."
  • Stefan Kiszko was convicted in 1976 for the rape and murder of an 11-year old Lesley Molseed in 1975. He spent 16 years in prison before he was released in 1992, after a long campaign by his mother. He died of a heart attack the following year at the age of 41. His mother died a few months later. In 2007, Ronald Castree, of Shaw, near Oldham, was found to have the same DNA as Lesley's attacker and was convicted at Bradford Crown Court.
  • John Joseph Boyle aged 18 was convicted under the pretenses of an alleged confession at Belfast City Commission on October 14, 1977 of possession of firearms and ammunition with intent to endanger life, and membership in the I.R.A. He was sentenced to ten years in prison on the first count, and to two years in prison on the second count, the terms to run concurrently. A suspended sentence of two years imprisonment imposed for a previous offense was also invoked, making a total of twelve years in prison. When released he underwent a long fight to prove his innocence. In 2003, his conviction was quashed but he has been denied compensation.
  • Paul Blackburn was convicted in 1978 when aged 15 of the attempted murder of a 9-year old boy, and spent more than 25 years in 18 different prisons, during which time he maintained his innocence. He said he had never considered saying he was guilty to secure an earlier release because it was a matter of "integrity". He was finally released in May 2005 having served 25 years when the Court of Appeal ruled his trial was unfair and his conviction 'unsafe'.
  • The Bridgewater Four were convicted in 1979 of murdering Carl Bridgewater, a 13-year-old paper boy who was shot on his round when he disturbed robbers at a farm in Staffordshire. Patrick Molloy died in jail in 1981. The remaining three were released in 1997 after their convictions were overturned.
  • Peter Fell, a former hospital porter, described in the media as a "serial confessor" and a "fantasist", was sentenced to two life terms in 1984 for the murder of Ann Lee and Margaret "Peggy" Johnson, who were killed while they were out walking their dogs in 1982. His conviction was overturned in 2001. He had served 17 years.
  • Sean Hodgson, also known as Robert Graham Hodgson, was convicted in 1982 of murder following various confessions to police, although he pleaded not guilty at his trial. His defence said he was a pathological liar and the confessions were untrue. He was freed on March 18, 2009 by the Court of Appeal as a result of advances in DNA analysis which established his innocence.[24]
  • Winston Silcott was jailed for the murder of PC Keith Blakelock during the 1985 Broadwater Farm Riot in Tottenham. He was cleared in 1991, when new evidence came to light.
  • Kenny Richey, a UK-US dual citizen, spent 21 years on Death Row in the US after being convicted of starting a fire that killed 2-year-old Cynthia Collins. His conviction was eventually thrown out. Richey agreed to a plea bargain in which he agreed to plead 'no contest' to involuntary manslaughter, child endangering and breaking and entering. In exchange for this plea, the prosecution dropped the charges of arson and murder. Part of the agreement was that Richey leave the U.S. immediately.[25]
  • The Cardiff Newsagent Three, Michael O'Brien (of the Cardiff Newsagent Three), Darren Hall and Ellis Sherwood, were wrongly convicted for the murder of a newsagent, Phillip Saunders. On October 12, 1987 Mr Saunders, 52, was battered with a spade outside his Cardiff home. The day's takings from his kiosk had been stolen, and five days later he died of his injuries. The three men spent 11 years in jail before the Court of Appeal quashed the conviction in 1999. The three have since been paid six figure compensation, but South Wales Police had still not apologised or admitted liability for malicious prosecution or misfeasance.
  • Michelle and Lisa Taylor, wrongly convicted for the murder in 1991 of Alison Shaughnessy, a bank clerk who was the bride of Michelle's former lover. The trial was heavily influenced by inaccurate media reporting and deemed unfair.
  • Colin Stagg falsely imprisoned for the Rachel Nickell murder case on Wimbledon Common, London in 1992, but cleared in 1994. The case was thrown out on the grounds that police had used a "honey trap" plot in a bid to encourage him to confess. On November 28, 2007, Robert Napper, a convicted rapist and serial killer, was charged with her murder on the basis of new DNA evidence, and convicted on December 18, 2008. Stagg was subsequently awarded £706,000 compensation, and claims the false conviction ruined 14 years of his life, as he became unemployable and shunned.
  • The Cardiff Three, Steven Miller, Yusef Abdullahi, and Tony Paris were falsely jailed for the murder of prostitute Lynette White, stabbed more than 50 times in a frenzied attack in a flat above a betting shop in Cardiff's Butetown area on Valentine's Day 1988, in 1990 and later cleared on appeal. In 2003, Jeffrey Gafoor was jailed for life for the murder. The breakthrough was due to modern DNA techniques used on evidence taken from the crime scene. Subsequently, in 2005, nine retired Police Officers and three serving Officers were arrested and questioned for false imprisonment, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and misconduct in public office. On 6 July 2011, eight of the officers stood trial at Swansea Crown Court for perverting the course of justice together with three witnesses accused of perjury.[26]
  • Sally Clark was convicted in 1996 of the murder of her two small sons Christopher and Harry, and spent three years in jail, finally being released in 2003 on appeal. The convictions were based solely on the analysis of the deaths by the Home Office Pathologist Alan Williams, who failed to disclose relevant information about the deaths, and backed up by the paediatric professor Sir Roy Meadow, whose opinion was pivotal in several other child death convictions, many of which have been overturned or are in the process of being disputed. In 2005 Williams was found guilty of serious professional misconduct and barred from practicing pathology for 3 years. In July 2005 Meadow was also removed from the Medical Register for serious professional misconduct and prohibited from practicing medicine. Sally Clark became an alcoholic as a result of her ordeal and died of alcohol poisoning in 2006.
  • The Gurnos Three, also known as the Merthyr Tydfil Arson Case (Annette Hewins, Donna Clarke and Denise Sullivan). Wrongly convicted of the arson attack on the home of Diane Jones, aged 21, in October 1995. Someone had torn away part of the covering of her front door and poured in petrol to start the fire. The fire spread so rapidly that Ms Jones and her two daughters, Shauna, aged two and Sarah-Jane, aged 13 months, were all killed. The convictions of Ms Hewins and Ms Clarke were quashed at the Court of Appeal in February 1998 and a retrial ordered in the case of Ms Clarke.
  • Donna Anthony, 25 at the time, was wrongly jailed in 1998 for the death of her 11 month old son, and finally released in 2005, also because of the opinion of Sir Roy Meadow.
  • Angela Cannings also jailed wrongly for four years on the now discredited evidence of Sir Roy Meadow. Angela was later stalked by a jail inmate she befriended, and the strain of the wrongful conviction destroyed her marriage.
  • Barry George was cleared on August 1, 2008 of murdering Jill Dando after a retrial in which police were unable to rely on discredited forensic evidence.
  • David Carrington-Jones was released on October 16, 2007 , after spending six years in jail for a rape he did not commit, having been previously found guilty on two counts of rape and sexual assault against a pair of teenage sisters in December 2000. One of the accusers subsequently admitted to police she made up the allegations against her stepfather Mr Carrington-Jones because she 'did not like him'. It has transpired that the girl had previously made up other allegations of rape against her brother, fiancée, stepfather and even a customer at her work, but the jury was not told of this, and Mr Carrington-Jones was sentenced to a ten-year jail term at Lewes Crown Court. He was later refused parole hearings because he refused to admit his guilt. Mr Carrington-Jones is said to be discussing claiming compensation.
  • Suzanne Holdsworth served three years of a life sentence after she was convicted in 2005 of murdering Kyle Fisher, a neighbour's two-year-old son, by repeatedly banging his head against a wooden bannister at her home in Hartlepool. She was found not guilty in 2008 by the Court of Appeal after new medical evidence suggested Kyle may have died from an epileptic seizure.
  • Sion Jenkins, acquitted after a second retrial of the murder of Billie-Jo Jenkins in February 2006. Jenkins was convicted in 1998 but the conviction was quashed in 2004 following a CCRC referral. The basis of the quashed conviction at the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) were the concessions by the Crown's pathologist that evidence given at the first tribunal were inaccurate.

John Bodkin Adams, is a particularly notable case when a man was acquitted when he may, now with access to archives, be considered to have been guilty in all likelihood. Adams was arrested in 1956 for the murders of Edith Alice Morrell and Gertrude Hullett. He was tried in 1957 and found not guilty of the first charge and the second was dropped via a Nolle prosequi, an act which the presiding judge, Lord Justice Patrick Devlin, later termed "an abuse of power".[27] Police archives, opened in 2003, suggest that evidence was passed to the defense by the Attorney-General Reginald Manningham-Buller in order to allow Adams to avoid the death sentence, then still in force. Home Office pathologist Francis Camps suspected Adams of killing 163 patients in total.[28] Adams was only ever fined for minor offences and struck off the medical register for four years.


Reflecting Scotland's own legal system, which differs from that of the rest of the United Kingdom, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) was established in April 1999. All cases accepted by the SCCRC are subjected to a robust and thoroughly impartial review before a decision on whether or not to refer to the High Court of Justiciary is taken. Cases of miscarriage of justice include:

  • Oscar Slater was wrongfully convicted in 1909 of the murder of Marion Gilchrist on the flimsiest evidence, and sentenced to death. His sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, and he served at hard labor until his conviction was quashed in 1928.[29]
  • Billy Mills was wrongly convicted of a gun raid on a Royal Bank of Scotland branch in Partick, Glasgow, in May 2007, and jailed for nine years in August 2008. Freed on bail in February 2009, his conviction was quashed in April 2009.[30]

United States

Province of Massachusetts Bay

  • Salem witch trials, malicious gossip gone awry resulted in the killing of 19 innocent people before the sentences were overturned (1692).

After independence

  • Late 18th century through the 1960s: over 5,000 victims of lynching, the practice of killing people, mostly African American, by extrajudicial mob action. Only rarely were lynchers punished, or even arrested, for their crimes.
  • November 11, 1831, Nat Turner was hanged in Jerusalem, Virginia, now known as Courtland. His body was flayed, beheaded and quartered. Virginia then executed 56 blacks accused of being part of Turner's rebellion. Two hundred additional blacks were beaten and killed by white militias and mobs in racist revenge.[31]
  • May 4, 1886; Chicago, Haymarket Riot: eight anarchist labor activists sentenced for a bomb explosion during a demonstration, followed by police firing indiscriminately upon unarmed protesters. In June 1893, Illinois Governor John Peter Altgeld signed pardons for the three still alive after concluding all eight were innocent.

Twentieth century

  • November 19, 1915; Joe Hill was executed for the murder of John G. Morrison (ex-cop) and Arling J. Morrison, in their Salt Lake City butcher store. Hill, who was a Socialist, became the subject of substantial media and political attention, including pleas for clemency by Woodrow Wilson.
  • 1920; Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, two Italian anarchists, tried and sentenced to death for the killing of two people during a robbery in 1920. In 1977, Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis issued a proclamation, stating they had not been treated justly and that "any disgrace should be forever removed from their names." The question of their actual guilt or innocence was not resolved by the Dukakis proclamation.
  • 1923; Marcus Garvey, convicted of mail fraud in a prosecution focused largely on his political activism. Garvey's sentence was commuted by President Calvin Coolidge.
  • 1931; Scottsboro Boys
  • 1937; Isidore Zimmerman, was imprisoned from 1937 to 1962 for a murder he did not commit. 21 years later the New York Court of Claims awarded him $1,000,000 for his ordeal. He died 4 months later, after having spent 24 of his 66 years in prison. Zimmerman had his death penalty commuted to a life term just hours before he was scheduled to be electrocuted (he willingly sought execution because of the intense psychological torture of being on death row).[32]
  • 1949; Iva Toguri D'Aquino was convicted of treason. She had been one of the women making propaganda broadcasts as 'Tokyo Rose'. She served a little more than six years of her ten year sentence. Evidence that prosecution witnesses had lied at trial led President Gerald Ford to pardon her in January 1977.[33]
  • 1954; Dr. Sam Sheppard, American convicted in 1954 of killing his wife in their home; Sheppard maintained she had been killed by an intruder, appealed his case to the Supreme Court. After serving ten years in prison, he was granted a new trial and was finally acquitted. A television series and film (both titled The Fugitive) are widely believed to have been inspired by his story.
  • 1961; Clarence Earl Gideon who was convicted in 1961 of robbery, successfully argued in the Supreme Court in the case Gideon v. Wainwright that his trial was unfair due to his lack of an attorney because of his inability to pay for one. He was given a retrial in 1963 with a free public defender and was acquitted.
  • 1965; Peter Limone, Joseph Salvati and the families of the two other men who died in prison were awarded $101.7 million as compensation for framing by the FBI.[34]
  • 1973; George Whitmore, Jr was exonerated of the 1963 Career Girls Murders.
  • 1974; Michael Austin was released in 2001 of murder during an armed robbery in Baltimore, Maryland, after 27 years of incarceration. He was pardoned, and in 2004 was awarded compensation of $1.4 million.
  • 1976; Robert Wilkinson, PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia County, 1976: police beat him into signing a confession and intimidated witnesses to identify him. He was convicted of arson and murder and sentenced to five consecutive life terms. He was released later in the year after the actual perpetrators were convicted in federal court. The charges were refilled in 1977; indictments dismissed three months later. A federal court ruled prosecutor David Berman ignored, withheld and/or destroyed exculpatory evidence – the actual perpetrators came to him and confessed. In dismissing Wilkinson's later indictment, the court ruled the prosecution was being maintained in bad faith. Prosecutors still insist he is guilty.
  • 1976; Randall Dale Adams convicted of the 1976 murder of police officer Robert Wood in Texas largely due to testimony from David Ray Harris, who was later executed for a similar murder. Errol Morris' film, The Thin Blue Line explored his case and caused a closer examination, resulting in his release after 12 years in prison – 4 of them on death row.
  • 1979; Gary Dotson, was the second person whose conviction (in 1979) was overturned because of DNA evidence, in 1989.
  • 1980; Cornelius Dupree, of Houston, Texas, was convicted of aggravated robbery, which was alleged to have been committed during a rape in 1979. He was sentenced to 75 years in prison and paroled during the summer of 2010. After DNA evidence cleared him of the crime, he was declared innocent in January 2011. His 30 years of imprisonment is the longest of any exonerated inmate in Texas.[35][36]
  • 1981; Clarence Brandley, Montgomery County, Texas, was convicted of capital murder in 1981. In 1989, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned Brandley's conviction, finding that police and prosecutors, including James Keeshan, failed to investigate leads pertaining to other suspects, suppressed evidence placing other suspects at crime scene at time of crime, failed to call a witness who didn't support the state's case, allowed the perjured testimony of a witness to go uncorrected, and failed to notify Brandley that another man later confessed to the crime.
  • 1982; Ron Williamson and Dennis Fritz, Pontotoc County, Oklahoma, were intimidated by police into confessions for the 1982 rape and murder of Debra Sue Carter and convicted. In 1999, DNA evidence exonerated them.
  • 1983; John Gordon Purvis, Broward County, Florida, a severely mentally ill person, despite no physical evidence that he was even at the scene of the murder, was intimidated by police into confessing to the murder of Susan Hamwi and her daughter in 1983. Later, investigators found that Paul Hamwi, Susan Hamwi's ex-husband, had hired Robert Wayne Beckett Sr. and Paul Serio to murder Susan Hamwi and Purvis was exonerated in 1993.
  • 1984; Darryl Hunt, convicted in 1984 of the rape and murder of Deborah Sykes, spent 19 years in prison, 9 of which were served after DNA evidence indicated that he did not commit the rape. Since Hunt was an African American, the case was heavily charged with the topic of race relations.
  • 1984; Juan Roberto Melendez-Colon was wrongly convicted of the Florida murder of Delbert Baker. He spent over 17 years on Death Row and was released from prison on January 3, 2002.
  • 1985: In 1982 Scott and Brenda Kniffen of Kern County California were accused, and in 1985 sentenced to over 240 years, each, in prison on charges that they abused and molested their young sons. It was later revealed the charges were completely fabricated by overzealous prosecutors and police. The Kniffens spent 14 years in prison before being released. This case was the subject of a 2001 Lifetime Television film called Just Ask My Children.
  • 1986; the Roscetti Four - Marcellius Bradford, 17, Calvin Ollins, 14, Larry Ollins, 16, and Omar Saunders, 18 - were convicted of the kidnapping, rape and murder of 23-year-old medical student Lori Roscetti in Chicago. Bradford pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of aggravated kidnapping provided testimony at Larry Ollins's trial in exchange to a sentence of 12 years; the other three were sentenced to life imprisonment. Bradford later recanted, saying that his confession, plea bargain and testimony had been coerced by Chicago police. At the original trials, crime lab analyst Pamela Fish had testified that semen found on the victim's body could have come from the Ollins brothers, but later examinations of her notes revealed that none of the four boys' blood types matched the crime scene evidence. In 2001, DNA testing exonerated all four men; their convictions were vacated and they were released from prison. In April 2002, their case was profiled on an episode of This American Life entitled "Perfect Evidence." In 2003, The four men were awarded $120,000 from the State of Illinois, and Calvin Ollins received an additional $1.5 million from the City of Chicago.[37][38]
  • 1992; Joshua Rivera, 36, was sentenced 37 years for a 1992 murder. On September 19, 1992, Leonard Aquino was in front of a building and was approached by a couple of men who spoke briefly, then opened fire. Mr. Aquino was killed; another man, Paul Peralta, was shot, but survived. Rivera was known to people in the building and had a conviction for gun possession. He was charged and convicted of the crime. In 2006 Jaime Acevedo confessed he drove the real killer to the murder scene, and that Rivera was not involved. Prior to a court decision, Rivera accepted a plea agreement where he pled no contest to manslaughter.[39][40]
  • 1999; The Tulia incident, in which 46 people, forty who were African-American, were arrested on a drug sting under undercover officer Tom Coleman. Despite the lack of credible evidence, many pled guilty to receive lesser sentences believing they would not receive a fair trial (those convicted received harsher sentences). Further investigations and other evidence led to the release of most of the "Tulia 46" by 2004, who were further compensated a total of $6,000,000 collectively to avoid further litigation.

As the ability to sequence small samples of DNA has improved over the years, overturning of wrongful convictions has increased dramatically.


  • Dwayne Allen Dail, jailed for 18 years in a child rape case, was released from prison after new DNA testing cleared him of the crime.[41]
  • Derrick Bell, who was serving 12½ to 25 years in prison for the robbery and shooting of Brentonol Moriah in Brooklyn in 1996, had his conviction vacated.[42]
  • Claude McCollum, convicted for murder and rape in 2005, had his conviction overturned.[43]
  • Charles Dubbs, convicted for two sexual assaults, was set free after another inmate confessed to committing the crimes.[44]
  • Steven Phillips, sent to prison for a 1982 rape and burglary, was found to be wrongly convicted.[45]
  • Richard L. Kittilstad, sentenced to ten years prison sentence in 2001 for soliciting prostitution, had his conviction overturned.[46]
  • Ronald Gene Taylor was set free after DNA cleared him in a 1982 gang rape in Dallas County.[47]
  • John White was released from prison after a DNA test cleared him of rape.[48]
  • Marcus Lyons was cleared of rape by DNA evidence.[49]
  • Floyd Brown, held since 1993 in a mental institution without trial for beating Katherine Lynch to death, was released after all charges against him were dropped[50]
  • Martin Tankleff was released from prison and his 1990 conviction quashed after new evidence cast doubt on the police tactics and methods used to gather evidence. He was originally convicted of killing his parents, but new, unspecified, evidence cast serious enough doubt on that to cause an Appeal Court to quash the conviction.[51]
  • Kennedy Brewer was exonerated of a 1992 rape and murder of a 3-year-old child after spending 15 years behind bars.[52]


  • A Colorado judge ordered on January 22, 2008, the immediate release of Tim Masters after finding that exculpatory evidence had been withheld from his defense team. DNA research by Richard Eikelenboom from Independent Forensic Services in Nunspeet also cast doubt on his conviction with the Peggy Hettrick murder case in 1987 in Fort Collins. However, the DNA was that of the victim's boyfriend and may not be indicative of a crime.[53]
  • David Scott was released from prison after DNA evidence determined he was not the man who killed 89-year-old Loretta Keith of West Terre Haute.[54]
  • Lynn DeJac, convicted of killing her daughter, was exonerated after a judge overturned her conviction based on new DNA evidence implicating her former boyfriend in the killing.[55]
  • Rachel Jernigan, convicted of bank robbery in 2001, was released from prison after another woman confessed to the crime.[56]
  • Willie Earl Green, sent to prison in 1983 for the murder of a woman, was released after a change in testimony.[57]
  • Robert Gonzales, a mentally retarded man who falsely confessed to the slaying of an 11-year-old girl in 2005 was released from jail after a national database matched DNA in the case to another man in custody for another crime.[58]
  • Patrick Waller, who was convicted for a robbery in which four people were abducted and a woman was raped, has been exonerated.[59]
  • Raymond H. Jonassen spent four months in jail based on information that turned out to be false.[60]
  • Dean Cage was exonerated of a rape conviction after 14 years in prison.[61]
  • Walter Swift was wrongly convicted of raping a pregnant Detroit woman in 1982.[62]
  • Levon Junior "Bo" Jones, sentenced to death for the 1987 murder and robbery of Leamon Grady, was released after nearly 15 years in prison.[63]
  • James Lee Woodard was released from prison after DNA tests and changes in witness testimony proved that he did not rape and murder his 21-year-old girlfriend in 1980.[64]
  • Cynthia Sommer, convicted of killing her Marine husband with arsenic to pay for breast implants, was cleared after new tests showed no traces of poison.[65]
  • Thomas Clifford McGowan was freed after spending nearly 23 years in prison for a rape he did not commit.[66]
  • Nathaniel Hatchett, who spent 12 years in prison for rape, was released after prosecutors decided to drop charges based on DNA evidence that shows he was not the rapist.[67]
  • Glen Chapman, who spent 14 years on death row, was released after the District Attorney dismissed murder charges against him.[68]
  • Guy Randolph was exonerated by a court judge after the district attorney's office acknowledged that he had been wrongly convicted.[69]
  • Hattie Douglas's charge of murdering her 11-month-old son by poisoning him with alcohol was dismissed in May 2008. The murder charge was dropped after new tests cast doubt on the theory that the death of her son was caused by alcohol.[70]
  • Ada Joanne Taylor, Joseph White, Thomas Winslow, and three others were wrongly convicted in a murder and rape case[71] Ada Joanne Taylor confessed to police of being part of the crime after she was told that she would be the first woman to receive the death penalty in Nebraska.[72]
  • Arthur Johnson was exonerated after spending 15½ years in jail.[73]


  • Alan Beaman, convicted for the stabbing and strangling to death of his ex-girlfriend, was exonerated.[74]
  • Timothy Cole was convicted in 1985 for a rape he did not commit, he was posthumously exonerated in early February 2009 after serving 14 years. He died in prison in 1999.[75]
  • Thaddeus Jimenez spent more than 16 years in jail before his conviction was tossed.[76]
  • Sgt. Brian W. Foster's conviction for rape was overturned.[77]
  • Joseph R. Fears, Jr. was convicted in 1984 for two rapes. His sentence was overturned after DNA evidence proved that he didn't commit one of the rapes.[78]
  • Paul House was exonerated after spending 22 years on death row for murder.[79]
  • Joshua Kezer's 60 years prison sentence for second-degree murder was overturned. Circuit Judge Richard Callahan said: "The criminal justice system failed in the investigative and charging stage, it failed at trial, it failed at post-trial review and it failed during the appellate process."[80]
  • Bill Dillon's life sentence for murder was overturned. He was convicted in 1981 based on John Preston's testimony that he and his scent-tracking German-Shepherd connected Dillon to the killer’s bloody t-shirt. However, a 2007 DNA test proved that Dillon's DNA did not match the DNA on the t-shirt. Hundreds of other convictions based on the alleged abilities of the same dog are now in doubt.[81]
  • Darryl Burton was wrongly convicted and imprisoned for 24 years.[82]


  • Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley, known as the West Memphis 3, spent 18 years in prison for the murders of three 8-year-old boys in 1993. Baldwin and Misskelley were sentenced to life imprisonment and Echols was sentenced to death. The controversy of the case, ranging from police and jury misconduct to coerced confessions and fabricated evidence, raised doubt in their guilt. The case attracted the support of several celebrities and even the parents of two of the victims have come to believe in their innocence. In 2007, DNA excluded them from the crime, but the state refused to exonerate them. In 2010, a new judge ordered a new trial based on the DNA. In 2011, the prosecutors offered them to enter Alford pleas in exchange for time served, an offer they reluctantly accepted, because they would have been acquitted in a new trial and the state would have faced a lawsuit. They vowed to fight the convictions and find the real killer to clear their names. Prosecutors and police maintain they are guilty.
  • Michael Morton was exonerated after 25 years in jail when DNA evidence proved he did not kill his wife. It was especially controversial because the DA would not release the DNA evidence for over 6 years, even after multiple requests from The Innocence Project. [83]


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